IL Indoor Awards: NLL Rookie of the Year, plus the links

Mark Matthews was the top rookie in the NLL in 2013. (Photo: Richard Olson)
Mark Matthews was the top rookie in the NLL in 2013. (Photo: Richard Olson)

Mark Matthews was expected to be the best rookie in the National Lacrosse League in 2013 even before he was selected first overall in last year’s entry draft by Edmonton. Now he’s fulfilled the expectations, being named IL Indoor’s NLL Rookie of the Year in balloting among our 10 staff writers. Matthews earned 49 of 50 possible points in the system in which voters select their top 5 candidates, who receive 5 points for a first-place vote down to 1 point for being voted fifth. The only other player to receive a first-place vote was Minnesota’s Kiel Matisz, who finished second in the voting with 35 points. Matthews led his team and was fifth in the league with 38 goals. He was a tower of strength on an offence that jumped from last in the league in scoring in 2012 to third this year, increasing its output by a whopping 36 goals.

One of the two teams that outscored Edmonton was Minnesota. The success of the Swarm’s youth movement is reflected in their four players among the top nine in the rookie voting. Matisz was second after scoring 62 points and at times dominating the opposition. Shayne Jackson finished one point ahead of Matisz in the scoring race and one place behind him in the rookie voting.

Defender Alex Crepinsek earned kudos for his shut-down play with the Swarm, finishing sixth, while second overall pick Brock Sorensen earned three points to tie for seventh after overcoming a sluggish start to justify his high selection late in the season.

  1. Mark Matthews, Matthews, Matthews, Matthews, Matthews, Matthews, Matthews, Kiel Matisz, Matthews, Matthews
  2. Matisz, Matisz, Matisz, Matisz, Tyler Garrison, Matisz, Matthews, Shayne Jackson, Matisz
  3. Jackson, Alex Crepinsek, Jackson, Jackson, Matisz, Jackson, Jackson, Matisz, Joey Cupido
  4. Garrison, Dhane Smith, Brock Sorensen, Smith, Smith, Crepinsek, Garrison
  5. Smith, Curtis Knight, Smith, Knight, Garrison, Sorensen, Smith

Matthews: 49 points, 9 first-place votes
Matisz: 35 points, 1-first vote
Jackson: 16 points
Garrison: 9 points
Smith: 9 points
Crepinsek: 5 points
Sorensen: 3 points
Cupido: 3 points
Knight: 2 points

“Not only was Matthews an offensive threat himself, he helped improve the whole Edmonton offense.” – Graeme Perrow

“With Shayne Jackson looking more and more like a close second, I still have to go with Matthews here. Just looks so comfortable and natural in his first year running point on an NLL offense. Balanced numbers and a big reason Edmonton wasn’t just scary on defense this season, Matthews should be a star for years to come.” – Casey Vock

“This rookie class had a lot of talent up and down the board, but I don’t think there’s any question that Matthews was the one with the most impact. He came in with big expectations, and met them all.” — Bob Chavez

“Matthews was hyped as a Gary Gait/John Grant Jr. hybrid who would be the best No.-1 pick since, well, Junior. Lofty expectations to say the least. He didn’t set any rookie scoring records and didn’t blow the doors off the league as some expected but he still had an impressive debut. He still makes rookie mistakes (firing way too many shots from way too far outside) but he will only improve with age.” – Ty Pilson

Plus the links

The Junior B season is under way in Ontario and the Six Nations Rebels have wasted no time in showing that they intend to hold on to the Founders Cup title they’ve won each of the last two years. The Rebels drew over a thousand fans to their home opener, in which they dumped the Windsor Clippers 20-8 behind hat tricks from Dallas John, Austin Staats and Mitch Green. (Six Nations Rebels)…Things didn’t start so smoothly for the Newmarkets Saints, who were thrashed in a pair of losses to open their season, falling 10-3 to Gloucester and 18-4 to Nepean. (York Region)…The Mississauga Tomahawks and Orillia Kings played a much closer game, going to overtime before the Tommies emerged with a 10-9 victory. The tight game was a promising sign, though, for a Kings team that lost 19 of 20 games last season. (Simcoe.com)…The Oakville Buzz split a pair of close games to kick off their Jr B season. Playing in the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre for the first time, the Buzz edged Mimico 6-5. They then dropped a 9-7 decision to rival Halton Hills Bulldogs after falling behind 4-0. (Inside Halton).

Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at stamplax@hotmail.com.

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